Literary Death Match NYC: The Forecast Edition
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
1. Co-host M.G. Martin is so excited and he just can’t hide it. 2. M.G. Martin and friend Tess.
Literary Death Match took its first foray into the prophetic arts on Wednesday night. This was LDM: The Forecast Edition, celebrating the release of Forecast, Shya Scanlon’s first novel, and the forecast outside was appropriately spectacular: before the foot of show, it was sleeting sideways. Why the LDM seers couldn’t have used their clairvoyance on some mid-70s sunshine is for them to know and us to curse about while we wait for our socks to dry.
Still, literary people are tanks of resilience when it comes to the weather (or maybe it’s New Yorkers in general, but personally I keep to dish! events or my couch when there’s white [grey/black] stuff on the ground). Le Poisson Rouge, hosting LDM for the first time, was full of people happily obliging the two-drink minimum.
1.Morgan Meis and Todd Zuniga are two extremely well dressed men. 2. Shya Scanlon plants one on Steven Seighman, founder of Monkeybicycle.
LDM creator and world traveler Todd Zuniga hosted with the help of poet M.G. Martin, recently transplanted from San Francisco. Of the seven heavyweights set to do or judge battle that evening, only one had fallen victim to slush, and Shya Scanlon himself valiantly stepped in to judge. If you’ve never been treated to ringside LDM seats and you don’t feel like checking out past coverage, here’s how it goes: there are two rounds of writer-to-writer reading. Three witty judges pick a winner in each round and they go head-to-head in a non-reading finale. The victor takes the LDM championship title.
Wednesday’s first round set author James Freed against author Anya Ulinich. He read from his novel The Illiterate. She read a “cloyingly heartwarming” unpublished essay about the tooth fairy and life in the Soviet Union. He read faster than most human beings I’ve ever heard speak and finished before his seven-minute slot was up. She was shot with a Nerf gun for going over time (the rules, people, the rules).
1. Anya Ulinich. 2. Sam Lipsyte opines on literary merit.
Sam Lipsyte (author and Guggenheim fellow) offered judgment on literary merit. Someone else suggested that Ulinich send her essay to Harper’s, “since they often publish stories that go nowhere.” (Ed: tee hee. UPDATE: “Scanlonian.”) Very sexy actress Susan Blackwell weighed in on performance. Shya Scanlon interpreted his last-minute assignment to judge intangibles as an assignment to say intangible things, but the man is very handsome in an American Olivier Martinez way, so no one minded. The first round win went to Ulinich.
1. Susan Blackwell apparently has many adorable male friends, among them Stephen Karam and Lorenzo Pisoni. 2. Clementine, Martha, and J. Paints hang by the back.
Round two: writer and man-about-things Morgan Meis versus very pregnant author Amy Shearn. As Meis took the mic, a girl from the audience shouted, “We’re with you brother!” and he, with masterful deadpan said, “I brought my sister.” Then he hypnotized with a piece about European trains and an oft-repeated “Clackety clack” refrain. Shearn read a post from her blog about becoming one of those laptop-toting coffee shop assholes. She also threatened, “If you’re mean to me, I’ll probably just go into labor.” The judges were perfectly nice, but advanced Meis to the final round.
1. Aaron Garretson and Angela Ashman, lucky enough to have more than one friend on stage. 2. Meis win! Clackety clack.
I can’t tell you exactly what happened in that final round because I don’t think anyone there knew. It resembled charades. Ulinich and Meis and some audience volunteers acted out weather conditions brainstormed by Scanlon and score was somehow related to time. In the end, Zuniga crowned Meis the night’s champion.
The crowd was slow to leave, no doubt because leaving meant facing the village’s icy sidewalks and taking some snow to the face. Thankfully, there are rumblings of an LDM TV show in the pipeline so the next time they play prophet with the weather, we can all enjoy the forecast from the comfort of our own living rooms.
–Kai Twanmoh is a regular contributor to Electric Dish.
1. Team Anya takes a point. 2. Pregnant Amy Shearn said “I’m so excited to be here! And not just because I’m usually asleep by now.”
1.The judges. 2. This happened.